Learn all about the equine creatures known as Centaurs
Part humanoid, part horse, centaurs have the advantages of a powerful, equine lower-half with the intellect and dexterous limbs of a humanoid’s upper-half. Of course, anatomically, this is awkward in a bunch of different ways (thankfully, centaurs are mythical creatures and we don’t need to deal with the complications of what they eat or even how they sleep comfortably). In D&D 5e, these complications are mostly brushed over with some simplified mechanics to prevent centaurs becoming too cumbersome for a party (particularly if they have to climb a wall or something similarly difficult with hooves).
Centaurs were first introduced to D&D 5e as a playable race in Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica and have since been updated in Monsters of the Multiverse. Our guide below will tell you everything you need to know to play as one of these proud, equine characters.
What are Centaurs in D&D 5e?
Centaurs are part humanoid and part horse, merging the capabilities of both creatures into an intelligent and powerful individual. Centaurs originally hail from the Feywild and like most fey creatures (like Elves) they are at one with nature and often serve as protectors of forests and other bastions of the natural world. For this reason, they tend to dislike Humans and Dwarves who tend to have a more callous attitude towards nature and often will destroy it for their own benefit such as with deforestation to build vast cities.
The humanoid portion of a Centaur appears more like that of an Elf than a Human while the equine portion appears as you’d expect, like a horse. Unlike in much popular literature, Centaurs are not the height of a horse and Human stacked ontop of each other, rather, these portions are a little shorter than expected (probably to keep their size to manageable proportions). This still has them standing taller than most humanoids at about 7ft tall.
Centaurs are proud folk with a fairly serious streak. They tend to live in groups of other Centaurs and normally among nature, often making their homes in forests. This typically leaves Centaurs fairly isolated from other races though they are happy to cooperate with other races as long as their goals are amicable.
Centaurs usually strive towards peace and balance in the world but this doesn’t mean that they are pacifists and Centaurs certainly are known for being powerful warriors and will act with violence where a need arises.
Ravnican Centaurs will often give names to their foals of dead ancestors in order to preserve the spirit of that individual. The quicker a deceased Centaur can have their name passed to a new foal, the better according to Centaur traditions.
Centaurs from Theros have a different approach and will borrow names from other races to use for themselves rather than having culturally significant names. Some examples of centaur names include:
Male Centaur names: Aughus, Bonmod, Chodi, Driros, Eno, Kozim, Orval, Skelor, Tomis and Yarog
Female Centaur Names: Bido, Dunja, Galisnya, Honotia, Kotyali, Meloe, Mira, Pinya, Raisya, Saya and Tatna
How to play as a Centaur
Headstrong is often the way to go with Centaurs. You likely won’t let yourself be pushed around, will be independent and will be vocal in your disagreements with others. Also, any suggestion that you be used as a pack-mule will come with derision and probably also anger!
You’ll stand for what you believe is right because you believe it’s the right thing to do and not because anyone tells you to do it. For this reason, Centaurs can struggle cooperating with authority figures too.
Centaur Features in 5e
The following traits and features are from the updated rules found in Monsters of the Multiverse. You can use previously published rules to play as a Centaur which can be found in Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica.
|Ability Scores||+2 to one ability score and +1 to another or +1 to 3 different ability scores|
|Lifespan||About 60 years|
|Traits||Charge, Equine Build, Hooves, Natural Affinity,|
|Book found in||Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica|
If you want to play as a Centaur, your character will have the following traits and abilities:
Charge – If you move at least 30 feet towards a target and then hit them with a melee attack, you can immediately follow that attack with a bonus action to make an attack against that same target with your hooves.
Equine Build – You count as being one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push or drag. In addition, climbing is particularly difficult with your equine features. When climbing, rather than adding an extra foot for every foot of movement, you need to add 4 feet.
Hooves – You can use your hooves to make an unarmed strike. When doing so, you cause 1d6 + your strength modifier bludgeoning damage.
Natural Affinity – As a fey creature, you have a natural affinity with nature, as such, gain proficiency in one of the following skills of your choice: Animal Handling, Medicine, Nature or Survival.
Which classes work well for Centaurs?
Centaurs are a somewhat awkward race to use. There are drawbacks to having a huge horse’s body attached to your rump so cramped spaces and climbing are very difficult for Centaurs (though not impossible). However, if you’re looking for a very fast and mobile character, then Centaurs are the best race there is as you have 40ft movement (the most available for playable characters in D&D 5e).
Best classes for Centaurs
The other best trait for Centaurs is their ability to charge into combat and make an extra attack with their hooves. The challenge here is making repeated uses of this ability in a single combat. You’ll likely get to use it once as you charge into combat, but maneuvering out and then back into combat to charge again would require 60ft movement to accomplish regularly plus the ability to avoid opportunity attacks.
Taking the mobile feat will help you here as it adds another 10ft of movement and the ability to avoid opportunity attacks. Getting that final 10ft of movement is a little trickier but some classes like barbarians and rangers have these options.
You get some small extra benefits like an extra skill proficiency and the ability to carry and push/pull heavier loads.
With that in mind, the best classes for Centaurs are those that want to charge into melee combat and have high strength to add to their hoof attack. As such, we’d recommend the following classes for a Centaur character:
Top of the picks here is a barbarian which gets Fast Movement at level 5 and obviously loves to charge into the fray. Rangers are the most melee focused class to get a 1st level spell called longstrider which will allow you to move an extra 10ft so despite their usually lower strength, also get the nod for their ability to get multiple uses of charge in a combat (and Longstrider lasts an hour so you can cast it before combat and easily retain the benefits for a while).
Worst classes for centaurs
Basically, any class that doesn’t want to get into melee combat. Any class you take will benefit from extra maneuverability which is handy, but charge is completely redundant for non-melee classes like sorcerors, warlocks, wizards, clerics and bards (other than a few subclasses). Monks are also a poor choice as their martial arts make Charge pointless and even rogues that like to get into melee combat, tend to be dexterous rather than strong so gain less from their hooves (plus the mechanics of a sneaky Centaur are a little ridiculous)!